February Meeting 2020


The Society may have had to change their meeting day from Tuesday to Thursday but it did not dampen the loyalty of members who turned up on the 27th to hear Barry Newman from the National Vegetable Society enthuse about growing Vegetables in Containers! 

Who would have thought so many different vegetables could be grown in so many different pots?  However it does take a little bit of thought; like fitting the pot to the result you are aiming to achieve!

Barry cultivates his own allotment but with the help of slides he showed what could be done in the smallest of places.  With an eye to climate, terracotta is Barry’s favourite choice of new pot but with so much old plastic around, a lot of which can be recycled, wooden barrels or metal containers there is no end of choice but make sure there are adequate drainage holes… 

Barry also talked about the soil and contrary to common sense purely garden soil is not really the best.   A combination of 50-50 soil and compost will have more of the nutrients that growing crops in a small space need and will enhance results.  Grow bags can be used but it was suggested that their soil depth is not the best although a good way to use them is to stand them on end and open the top giving much better root space and would even be good for potatoes.  Good tips about potatoes in containers, leave just 2 chits (shoots) and better not to treat them as you would in the garden by drawing up the soil over the shoots but place near the bottom of a largish container over good manure and just fill up the pot – slides showed it works.   It helps as well if you can place in a trench allowing the roots to spread into the soil.

Other slides showed sweet corn grown in old wheelie bins and beans in old metal dustbins and it seems we can all have fresh rhubarb grown this way.  Likewise tomatoes and strawberries which are not averse to growing in hanging baskets!

There are so many options – polybags, old tin baths, sinks and for smaller seeds like radish and cut-and-come-again greens, old plastic bottles with a bit sliced off the side make great little troughs for this type of crop.

On the subject of seeds, Barry recommends always looking for the AGM logo (Award of Garden Merit).  These will have been tested to ensure they give good results and special minicrop varieties are now available.  But why stop at vegetables?  With so many dwarf fruit trees now available you can even grown your own apples and pears!

After questions were ably answered at the end of an entertaining informative talk, it was clear members left fired up to squeeze their own pot produce somewhere in their garden or even on the patio.

October 2019 Meeting

Nick Bailey – 365 Days of Colour

Nick Bailey, a regular presenter on Gardener’s World, came to Felpham on Tuesday evening to talk to the Felpham & Middleton Horticultural Society about “365 Days of Colour in your Garden”.   The meeting was very well attended with 100 members and 49 visitors of which 13 became members.

Nick’s career of over 25 years in horticulture spans landscape and garden design, garden management, teaching, writing and broadcasting.  He has created and managed gardens on four continents including redesigning the gardens and diversifying the plant collection at London’s Chelsea Physic Garden for the past seven years.  In 2016 he designed his first Main Avenue Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, receiving extensive plaudits from the press and judges along with a Silver Gilt Medal. His film on plants associated with Shakespeare for Gardeners’ World won best TV programme at the Garden Media Guild Awards in 2016.

Nick began his broadcasting career presenting  “Gardens Wild and Wonderful”  in South Africa (1995-6) and spent four years as a panellist on BBC Radio Norfolk’s “Garden Party”.   Since then he has appeared on BBC 2’s “Great British Garden Revival”, “Big Dreams Small Spaces”, “ITV News”, “The One Show”,  BBC Radio 4’s “Food Programme” and presented RHS Flower Shows coverage for the BBC.

His horticultural media career spans some 15 years including work as an editor for “Garden Answers” and “Garden News”, freelance writing for the “RHS The Garden”, “The Mail”, “The Times” and “The Telegraph”.  Nick currently has regular columns in “Garden News”, and BBC “Gardeners’ World Magazine” for which he was awarded “Property Press Awards’ Garden Journalist of the Year 2017”.

Nick’s first book “Chelsea Physic Garden – A Companion Guide” was published in 2014, followed by “365 Days of Colour in your Garden” in 2015 which has been an Amazon best seller ever since.  His latest title, “Revive Our Garden” has received much praise for its practical and inspirational help to bring a garden back to life. 

 Nick was a very entertaining speaker – using the colour wheel to illustrate how harmonious colour combinations can be achieved by putting the right plants together.  He explained that we can, in fact, have colour all year round in our garden by extending the flowering season and gave lots of suggestions for those months of the year – November through to February – when we struggle.

Nick finished his talk by giving us an interesting insight into the filming of “Gardeners’ World”, (including some funny anecdotes!) and also creating a garden at Chelsea.  

As Don Faircloth, Society Show Secretary, said, when giving the vote of thanks, he was reminded of the Eric and Ernie sketch with Andre Previn when Eric explained that he was playing “all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”.  Nick encouraged us to rethink our borders to gain maximum colour and longevity and enjoy the winter planning our borders for next year.

September 2019 Meeting

On Tuesday 24th September Maggie Haynes came to speak to the Society about the Tuppenny Barn Project, its beginnings and objectives.  Starting in 1997 after leaving a successful army career and a short interim time as a security consultant while she decided what she really wanted to do, Maggie realised she wanted to make a difference.  Finding a 3 hectare overgrown field with a run-down barn on it in Tuppenny Lane she started on a project clearing the land and putting in twelve long, raised beds where she intended to grow vegetables.  With a little help from a small flock of Jacob’s Sheep to keep the grass down and freely admitting that at that time she had no horticultural experience, her vision was to help the community and particularly the children so they could learn where food comes from and how it  reaches the dinner table.  With this in mind schools were contacted and the Chidham Primary School was the first to understand the potential benefits and take up the offer.

Like all worthwhile projects it has mushroomed and evolved as did her horticultural experience through attending many DEFRA courses and in 2009 became an accredited charity.  However it was clear that although the barn had electricity it did not fit her vision.  What Maggie really wanted was a purpose-built educational centre so by 2013, after some wrangling with the Council, permission was granted and work began on the building that, true to Maggie’s principles of sustainability and organic methods, has straw bale walls with line render and a roof made of wooden slats and the first event was held.  However at the start there was no money for this £300,000 project but through frantic fundraising from grants, events, etc., and a very kind donation from Gordon Roddick of the Body Shop it came to fruition.  More help came from the late Sir Albert Finney with the donation of a solar tunnel now used for therapy activities.

There are two Educational Officers and the project has grown to include help for vulnerable people through horticultural therapy, pre-school activities, distribution of vegetable/salad bags, a farm shop open two days a week, soft fruit cultivation, cut flowers and an orchard and in a kitchen in the building the children can change the raw produce into vegetable soup and kale crisps, among other things. The beautiful building also helps sustain the project as it can be rented out for functions with all proceeds going to the charity and is also used by the community for meetings and lectures.  Help with the project of this size comes in the form of sixty-six volunteers – some regular, some just when they can but to get this far is a credit to Maggie and her determination and the rewards for the children are enormous.  Tuppenny Barn is open to visitors if you would like to see for yourself and after such an inspirational talk I am sure there will be many of the Society’s members dong just that.

Written by Christine Dunham, Outings Secretary

Flower & Produce Show 2019

Saturday 17th August started early for members of the Felpham & Middleton Horticultural Society who were exhibiting in the Flower and Produce Show.  It was a hive of activity in the St Mary’s Centre, Felpham, as members arranged their exhibits in the best way and rushed around putting them in the right places ready for the judging at 10.00 a.m. sharp!  This is the moment of truth but how the judges manage to decide winners from this profusion of flowers, pot plants fruit and vegetables grown by members in their gardens or allotments is a special science.  Overall the judges decided that Best in Show was a pot plant, an immaculate and beautiful two-tone pink fuchsia, but the hall was also filled to bursting with flowers of every type.  There were dahlias, large and small, hydrangeas, roses, phlox, sunflowers, pansies and so many more.  Not to be forgotten is our magnificent foliage, unbelievably colourful from deep purple through every shade of green to yellow.  The pot begonias were a sight to see and a wonderful multi-stemmed orchid deservedly won its section.

Having enjoyed all this colour and perfume, the fruit and vegetable sections groaned under the weight of huge onions, potatoes, carrots, beans, tomatoes, berries, rhubarb, two huge Tromba d’Albenga courgettes and much more including a couple of very odd shaped vegetables.

Ann Travers – winner of the Manor House Trophy

This is the Society’s largest show of the year and classes for handicraft from sewing to painting and everything in between vied with cookery from home-made wines and jam to cheesecake, all well supported and reportedly very well executed.  In the photography division the interpretation of the titles was both good and unusual.  The floral art section was a little down on exhibits this year but what was there was so well done  they were not only awarded 1sts, 2nds and 3rds but highly commended entries in the three categories.

Finally, but most definitely not least, was the children’s section.  Both divisions of under and over 7 years were entered and it is always a joy to see their efforts at potato printing, painting a pebble, home-made sweets and flapjacks and a computer generated picture to name only a few.

Added to the many beautiful sights, visitors could buy from the plant and cake stalls and have the chance to win great prizes from the tombola and raffle and to keep everyone going was the tea/coffee stall where visitors could buy drinks, biscuits and cake at very reasonable rates as testified to the quick disappearance of the cakes! 

Plant Stall

Report by Christine Dunham

July 2019 Meeting

Our July monthly meeting was held on Tuesday 23rd July at St Mary’s Centre, Felpham and the guest speaker was Mark Saunders, Head Gardener at Fittleworth House talking about perennials.

Mark began his talk with a potted history of his gardening career inspired by his father, who was also a gardener.  He has now been at Fittleworth House for 22 years and describes perennials as the Queens of the Borders which come in four categories for full sun, shade, tropical and bog conditions – in fact for all seasons and situations.  To illustrate this Mark gave a colourful slideshow of those grown at Fittleworth and various other locations in England and Wales.

Mark advised that though it is hard to resist those nursery grown plants in full bloom his advice would be to wait to nearer the end of the season when buying perennials so that before planting you can cut off the flowers making it easier for the plant to establish itself and then it will give a much better floral show next season – it takes a real gardener to do this!  At this point he also reminded us that gardeners need patience and perennials need room to grow so if you do not like to leave empty spaces it is better to infill with annuals at the start.  Of course most perennials are at their best mid-summer but there are those that will perform in Spring and Autumn too.

There are always problems for gardeners and this past year Mark explained has been particularly difficult for Fittleworth House’s renowned perennial border.  Normally this is a gloriously colourful border packed with beautiful flowers but a bad case of bindweed has forced the removal of all the plants to tackle it.  This was, of course, a monumental task and we followed the story through Mark’s slides to a muddy and forlorn border which will not see the perennials back until he is sure the bindweed has been conquered.  This is in stark contrast to his slides of earlier years but is in line with his chemical-free approach to problems, including pests for which he advocates other means of control in order to preserve our beneficial insects.  However, the border will not stay forlorn as it is to be planted up with vegetables and annuals while the perennials rest in other places. 

Mark’s colourful images and advice was inspiring and despite the fact that for most ordinary gardens it is not feasible to include a ‘Fittleworth’ border, it is clear that perennials are an essential element for that continuation of interest and colour.  What would our gardens be without daisies, lupins, kniphofias, peonies, lavender, asters, phlox, sedums, anenomes to name only a very few covering all seasons.

Report by Christine Dunham

Outing to Hanging Hosta Garden & West Green House Garden

Whoever heard of “hanging hostas”?  This we had to see so, on 17th July the Felpham & Middleton Horticultural Society made the trip into Hampshire and parked the coach at the end of a narrow lane to walk to a garden which promised the answer and other beautiful things.  Split into two groups half of us started with some delicious home made cake and a drink while the other half had a talk from the owner,  John Baker, before they were encouraged to seek out the hanging hostas.  The path led through jungle like foliage  with  hostas of every type like washing on a line and hanging from large bamboo bars held between two trees or purpose made structures.  The walls were not exempt, thick bamboo bars were fixed to support the hostas hanging from a higher bar.  Thoughout the garden were bursts of colour from day lilies, cannas, ginger lilies and dahlias and following the waterfall across a small bridge to a  pond we came across the beach of ‘mouse land’.  The mouse garden is inhabited by mouse hostas and mice (of the ornamental type).  Mouse hostas are tiny leaved varieties, not little hostas but cute miniatures that remain that way.  A balcony to the rear of the house probably originally a place to sit and contemplate the garden, is now home to many more potted hostas but the aerial view of the garden shows how much is packed into it.  Continuing around the garden you find yourself in an oasis of calm in a small but delightful islamic garden with tiled water-course and shelter.  Also ‘hanging’ in the garden were helpful tips on how to look after  hostas and deal with the dreaded slug!  Finally, with many ideas for our own gardens, and some plants to get us started, we tore ourselves away to go to our next destination.

This was a chalk and cheese outing from jungle to formal.  West Green House Garden is accessed by a wide gravel drive and has a special and distinctive sense of place.  Walking around the side of the impressive 1720’s manor house the garden is entered through a small shop into a pretty courtyard where there are plants for sale and a charming cafe.   There are also greenhouses where you can eat your own picnic but these are no ordinary greenhouses.  In the centre a long refrectory table!  There are plants many climbing over the roof but they are interspersed with Roman busts and other ornaments with the terracotta pots artfully arranged – what a lovely place to eat.  The outside cafe seating area is bordered by a stunning little parterre and through the arch into the walled central garden we were met by a riot of colour.  Beautiful peonies, day lilies, roses and too many colourful perennials to name them all.  This part of the garden is laid out in two areas in a symmetrical quartered manner and bordered by box hedges. In one half the sections were centred by four architectural fruit cages each surrounded by its own attractive vegetable patch, the other quartered area is filled with flowers surrounding an ornate well.  Through a moon gate you come across the stepped water garden headed by a majestic wall and carved statue.  Leaving this area through another arch there is a wooded area and a large lake with an island folly designed by the neo-classical architect Quinlan Terry.  Walking further over several little bridges there is  Chelsea planting and cultivated patches within the woodland and even more small follies and eventually arriving at a small but pretty Paradise garden.   The garden is surrounded by fields and there is a large glass pavilion within the grounds used for the performance of opera and other events.  While we were there the garden was being decorated with hundreds of lights for an impending performance and it was easy to imagine how magical this special garden would be after dark.

Report by Christine Dunham, Outings Organiser

Outing to Mottisfont Abbey and Longstock Water Garden

It was an early 08.30 start on 7th June for members of the Felpham & Middleton Horticultural Society in order to visit two very different but equally lovely gardens in one day.  Mottisfont was our first stop and as with all Abbeys it was built close to life sustaining water.  Leaving the coach we crossed the small bridge over the River Test, one of England’s rare and beautiful chalk rivers.  We could see the large brown trout through the crystal clear water.  From here it is a little walk past the house and winter garden to the first walled garden. 

Water Feature in the Vegetable Garden

Climbing roses decorated the walls of this newly built vegetable garden surrounding the central water feature.  Every vegetable and herb could be found in the brick built raised beds. 

Wandering through to the ‘piece de resistance’ of the glorious rose gardens, for which Mottisfont is famous, we were not disappointed.  Rain had been forecast but we basked in sunshine as we took in the wonderful sights and smells of roses of all imaginable colours and perfume. 

The Rose Garden

The tall walls were adorned with climbers some of which were still in bud to delight later visitors.  The roses were supported by perennials but the irises in pale and vibrant hues had to be admired and the stately foxgloves gave height and elegance amongst the shrubs and small trees many clothed in clematis.   The rose gardens are laid out in a symmetrical style criss-crossed by straight paths giving central areas for small lawns and allowing for the many borders to be easily inspected in all their glory. 

Beautiful Border of Roses

We retreated to the stable area for lunch under cover and the skies opened for a heavy shower but as we left to continue our visit the sun returned.   Previously a medieval priory, the house was made into a home in the 1930’s and the tour of the interior looked almost as if the inhabitants would be back any moment as it was set up for the era so well.  The maids/servants quarters were, of course, more austere and theirs was a much harder life.   We marvelled at the incredible clarity of the natural spring water – it looked and probably was good enough to drink – the monks certainly did and was the reason why they built their monastery here. This spring is protected by a brick wall and feeds into the River Test.    Before finally leaving a walk around the natural winter garden showed off how colour could continue through the colder months.  The evidence of hellebores, cornus, grasses and trees which give vivid autumnal colour could be seen amongst the mostly green foliage at this time.  Given more time there is a pretty walk along the River Test – an experience to look forward to.

Around 2.00 pm the coach left for Longstock Water Gardens.  Here again in sunshine the group were met by the Head Gardener who gave us the history of its origins and explained how the water is diverted from and returned to the River Test and also how the many small island beds in the water were hand made. 

Reflections at the Water Garden

Allowed to wander the stunning sight of a mature white wisteria that took our breath away came into view and wandering further around this amazing water garden laid out naturally with meandering paths and mature trees, we were treated to the sight of large shrubs interspersed with delightful flowers and narrow wooden bridges we could cross – the only way to see some of the flower beds which along the edges included many colourful plants that love to have their feet in the water.  

Breathtakingly Gorgeous Wisteria

The views across the colourful islands and water with just the sound of the birds increased the feeling of being in a magical and peaceful place that seemed a world away from the hubbub outside.  The concept for this garden is so very different from the normal layout but it is absolutely delightful. 

Fabulous View

It seemed impossible that this wonderful garden and all its islands are maintained by the Head Gardener and just 2 others.   All too soon it was back on the coach but with plenty of ideas on how to include just a little bit of Longstock heaven and Mottisfont beauty into our own gardens.

Dappled Shade at the Water Garden

Report by Christine Dunham, Outings Organiser

Rose and Sweet Pea Show 2019

St Mary’s Centre on Saturday 15th June was a kaleidoscope of colour and perfume when the Felpham and Middleton Horticultural Society held their annual Rose and Sweet Pea Show. 

Overall entries were up by 30 on the previous year from the same number of entrants, an encouraging result, especially due to the inclement weather conditions prior to the show.   

The rose and sweet pea classes were well supported and judges commented that the standard of entries in the rose and sweet pea classes was high, despite the prior wet and windy conditions.  It was pleasing to see two new entrants in these classes.  As usual the foliage and mixed flower classes were popular with exhibitors and all other flower classes were well supported as were the fruit and vegetables.

The Pot Plant classes received more entries this year and drew lots of attention with many varied and unusual exhibits. 

Floral Art exhibits provided an excellent backdrop to the layout of the Centre and as always there was much discussion about the judge’s comments. 

As it wasn’t “beach weather” the Show was well attended by the general public who tried their luck with the tombola and raffle,  bought a cake and/or plant from the well stocked stalls and had a welcome cup of tea or coffee and home-made cake. 

The 70th Anniversary Cup for the most points in rose classes was won by Sandra Harris with her outstanding exhibits across all classes in this section.    

‘Mac’ MacCulloch  won the Salmon Cup for the most outstanding rose exhibit, the Loveys Cup for the most outstanding sweet pea exhibit and the National Sweet Pea Medal for the most points in the sweet pea classes.   

The Horticultural Society Trophy for the most points in the show was won by Sandra Dean and ‘tied’ closely behind by Pauline Scrace and ‘Mac’ MacCulloch.  Sandra also won the Floral Art Bowl for the best exhibit in floral art. 

The Watson Cup for the best pot plant was awarded to Sue Faircloth for an outstanding cactus exhibit in full flower which caught the eye not only of the judges but the public as well. 

The Thorndyke Cup for the most points in fruit and vegetables was won by Margaret B Howard having gained either a first or second in all classes.

Report by Paul Barry

Outing to The Old Vicarage


It was an unpromising start to the Society’s morning visit to the National Garden Scheme gardens of The Old Vicarage in Washington but resulted in a visit to remember.  Although arriving in rain we were ushered into a large conservatory to enjoy a drink and a large slice of cake and this was a joy in itself as it overlooked an immaculate lawn surrounded by the most colourful herbaceous borders.  By the time we were ready to emerge back into the garden to roam at leisure the rain had stopped and the magical tour began.

The Vicarage being in a elevated position, as we moved around the side of the house we were treated to a grand view across the countryside.  The vast sloping lawn was bisected with flower beds into which were set cocooned seating areas facing back to the house.  After admiring the many different species of plants we moved further down the gentle slope towards a newly built Italianate garden house amongst flowers and enclosed by an intricate low wall of rounded flat stones.  Further on was a very pretty formal pond nestled into the slope, again surrounded by flowers but unseen from the upper lawn. There was so much to look at it took time to reach the Japanese garden which was an oriental delight with great attention to detail filled with acers and mossy stones and tea house creating a calm and peaceful place.  Close by was a wooded area with a marked pathway through a willow ‘maze’ and past some modern sculpture looking perfectly at home.  In the wood was an inspired tree house constructed from logs and raised up on wooden tree trunks.  The steps up led into the cosy room complete with its own wood burner for those colder days. Enhancing the atmosphere were stained glass windows depicting the colourful bugs that inhabit the gardens.  The attached balcony gave a raised and widened view of the woods including a giant artificial cobweb between three trees (thankfully no spider)!  On the back steps out of the tree house and in the darkest corner hung a skeleton!  Walking back towards the house there was a further lawn area with flowering borders.

There were far too many plants to name names but suffice to say a great deal of thought, clever ideas and humour really did make this a memorable visit and I for one will definitely be visiting again.

Report by Christine Dunham, Outings Organiser

Spring Show 2019

An explosion of spring colour greeted the many visitors to the Society’s first Show of the year in St Mary’s Centre on Saturday 30th March. 

Thankfully the day also proved to be spring-like and quite a change from last years’ weather when all four seasons were experienced in one day, keeping visitors in the warmth of their homes. 

Not only were daffodils and other spring flowers represented but floral art, vegetables, cookery, crafts, photography and delightful children’s classes which were of particular interest to visitors. 

The unenviable and difficult task of deciding the winners of not only each class but the Cups and Trophies for the various categories was the responsibility of the qualified judges and after much consideration and contemplation, the results were decided.  The following are the winners of the major awards:

The Alan Twaites Memorial Trophy was won by Jackie Raynor, a new member and exhibitor, for the most outstanding exhibit in Daffodil classes.

The Daffodil Society Medal was won by David Donovan for the most outstanding exhibit in Daffodil classes.  David also won the Salmon Trophy for the most points in the Cookery classes. 

The Travers Trophy was won by Sandra Dean for most points in Flower classes excluding Daffodils.  Sandra also won the Rossiter Cup for the most outstanding Horticultural exhibit and the Ball Trophy for the best exhibit in Floral Art.

The Patsy Foster Trophy went to Sally Barry for Best Orchid in Show.

The James Cup was won by Sue Abbot for most points in Handicrafts and also the Felpham and Middleton Horticultural Trophy for most points in Show.

Lily-Rae Stewart was presented with a Cup for most points in the Children’s classes – 7 years and under.  It was disappointing that there were no entrants in the 8 – 14 years age group.  

More than 150 adults and children visited the Show enjoying the visual experience of the exhibits and the unmistakable fragrance of spring.

Report by Paul Barry